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Invite Week 2 Review & Week 3 Preview


   Alto   - 9/22/2018

Week 2 Match Reviews

What a treat last week was. While I went into it expecting a full slate of 2-0 matches, I was wrong in the best of ways and couldn’t be happier. Once again, >> put on an absolutely spectacular performance in the cast, VOD available here. If the week 1 match was a must-watch, then week 2 is one order of magnitude higher, as the evolution >> showed over that match was incredible to watch and actually striking down KND this early is a huge surprise.

*DENNYS has renamed to The Faction. This is a highly supported and long awaited move.

Galactic Kids Next Door vs. Fast Forward

Map: pl_swiftwater_final1
Predicted: 2-0 KND
Result: 2-1 >>

Feels like we end up getting one of these games each season, and it looks like this time it comes in week 2. While KND was missing 3 mains in the halves they lost, Mustard said it best during the cast: “If >> can’t beat KND now, they’ll never be able to.” And beat them they did. After a shaky first half (which featured KND having Unicorn Wizard on soldier and Etney on demo for a round before Bowl’s late arrival), it looked like the missing mains wouldn’t matter. Dimento had an absolutely monster half, both of KND’s demos were shredding and the team was playing tight and fast, leaving >> no room to work with and no time to breathe. Whoever was giving the pep talk at halftime for >> deserves an award, though, since the >> that came out in the 2nd half looked like a different team entirely. >> was able to transfer a strong 2nd hold into an iron grip on 3rd that featured an unusual gun placement from spamfest that clearly put the brakes on whatever momentum KND had after the first half. Everyone was doing their job and more, with the flank coming in especially big, finding tons of frags and always being major thorns in the sides of KND. The one player I do want to focus in on, however, is Bowl: while his first-half performance was strong as always, >> apparently solved the Mayonnaise Equation and completely removed him from the game after that point. A 5/17 K/D is bad enough, but all of the deaths were coming at the worst of times, either immediately before pushes or in post-fights where he’d be able to clean up. Having played with him two seasons ago and been charting his progress since then, even when KND’s lost I don’t think I’ve ever seen him be exploited this hard, so major props to >> for managing to do that.

Bowl wasn’t the only one with a lackluster performance for KND, though; spyro ringing on pyro very clearly showed his rust, having a bad night all around. A 1/12 K/D with 38 dpm in the first half is just objectively atrocious, and while he did better in the later halves it was most definitely too little, too late. Scizor subbing for arekk was never really able to get off the ground, and Jacob’s impact on the game was significantly reduced after the first half. Notably, I hyped up the SvS coming into this match from last week, something that was totally misplaced. It’s worth noting that while both Fallen and SGC had similar kills, SGC had nearly double the deaths, but that comes more from >>’s dominance than anything related to just the snipers. If anything, both spies had much larger impacts on the game, something rare especially on a sniper map like swiftwater. The 3rd half ended up being a lot closer than the 14min defense/5min offense >> showed in the 2nd, coming down to >> narrowly holding KND at last after 7.5min. The opportunities for KND to shake off the 2nd half and still snag the match were there, but >> managed to pull a crucial number of key picks to stall out KND. With Nursey having switched to kritz to try to force an easier 2nd push, Bowl was killed while Nursey was 85%, crucially allowing figsy to finish her uber and hold 2nd for another minute+. After 2nd was finally capped, exile had a crazy blind det to drop Nursey as they were ready to kritz into 3rd, securing more precious seconds. Chain deaths onto the normally stalwart KND med meant the eventual 90 second last hold would only revolve around KND having 1 uber, which saw Bowl getting launched out of the uber by some well-placed stickies into a near-total KND wipe. Overall, KND’s roster issues will keep an asterisk on this game, but the mastery >> showed in the 2nd half against a still-strong roster and the grit and tenacity in the 3rd half solidifies >>’s place as a contender this season more so than anything last week.

MVPs: rain (54 kills, 1st overall), wish (1.7 K/D, first overall), DelDongo (50 frags, 37 on combo + sniper)

Apolodosh vs. IRENE

Map: pl_borneo
Predicted: 2-0 IRENE
Result: 2-1 IRENE

I knew this was going to happen. I wrote off AD last week JUST so they’d surprise everyone and make this game a close one, like they always do. My master plan for a more competitive Invite as I continue to influence matches from the shadows continues. /s In reality, I really didn’t expect AD to make this as close as they did, but that really is becoming their specialty. Similar to the KND/>> match, this match saw a dominant first half by the favorite followed by a surprisingly dominant half for the underdog, with a much closer 3rd half that in this case, AD was just barely unable to pull it out. Of note this match is IRENE’s updated roster, shuffling Habib to soldier, Jarrett to demo, and speedy to spy. It’s my opinion that this roster is an overall downgrade to their old roster, as I think that speedy and habib both had higher potentials on their old classes than they do now, with the Jarrett/speedy spy difference being ultimately negligible. AD apparently agreed with this assertion; after a surprisingly fast 6.5 min cap in the first half, they lost in a blazing 5:10. If >>'s pep talker gets an award then AD's certainly gets the runner-up, as they come out and more than double their defense to 11 minutes while pushing in sub-6. Shaayy came up big like usual, joined by pablo, River, and Madringme. River and shaayy continued their strong performance into the last half while the rest of IRENE stepped up, holding them a near 12 minute cap. Not all was lost, though, as AD was carrying a strong last hold and looked set up to maybe carry out the miracle hold. Set up until bo4r dropped xbs, and AD's chances of winning vanished with xbs' uber. Regardless, a surprisingly close match that AD should be proud of and other teams should take note of.

MVPs: habib (55 kills, 1st overall), shaayy (51 kills, 2nd overall, only AD player in top 6)

The Faction vs. Chill Penguins

Map: pl_borneo
Predicted: 2-0 f
Result: 2-0 f

Unlike the other two matches this week, there’s not much to talk about here. The Faction showed their dominance as was expected, following a 5.5 min offense by holding Bv at last. Andrew had a great game as was to be expected, with zuchima having a great showing as well, second fragging as well as leading in the K+A department with nearly 300 dpm thanks to some successful phlog plays (as well as Virgin’s Dragon’s Fury). Wall had only 6 deaths in 37 minutes, while every combat class sans Spades went positive for The Faction. On the Bv side, new medic Daffodil had a good performance, outhealing Wall despite having 10 more deaths, and Paals and turkey were able to at least pull neutral K/Ds. Unfortunate that Bv wasn’t able to make anything special happen so we could have 3 tight games, but it is what it is.

MVPs: zuchima (67 K+A, 1st overall, +13 over 2nd, 40 frags, 2nd overall, 7 medic kills), andrew (50 frags, 1st overall, +10 over 2nd)

Week 3 Match Predictions

We move into week 3 with the standings being ridiculously close, as the current 1st place teams are separate from 5th by only 1 match point, and this week’s matches look to be close as well. The headline is KND/IRENE, of course, but AD takes on The Faction looking to prove their round off of IRENE last week wasn’t just a fluke.

*This is written assuming IRENE keeps their roster from last week.

Galactic Kids Next Door vs. IRENE - Match of the Week

Bans: Ashville (KND), Product (IRENE), Lakeside (IRENE), Warmtic (KND)
Map: koth_cascade_rc1a

We approach the projected 1v2 matchup with both teams looking decidedly weaker than what would’ve been expected. IRENE’s won both of their games by only a single round against teams they were projected to look a lot more dominant against, and KND actually lost week, albeit with a multitude of subs. I think IRENE got the most out of the map bans here, as KND’s a proven team on product and lakeside, and KND hasn’t historically been the best team on Cascade, even losing to AD on it last season (again, with some mains missing, but the point still stands). Regardless, I don’t think it’ll be enough for IRENE to take this win. They’ve looked decent enough the past two weeks, but nowhere near actualizing the potential we all saw in the roster at the beginning of the season. On the contrary, KND absolutely bulldozered The Faction in week 1 with all of their mains, and even with an unfavorable map, assuming all their mains play they present a strong enough combined front to overcome IRENE. As a map, Cascade helps to neutralize the difference between SGC and bo4r (the biggest individual disparity between the teams) allowing KND’s experience together to overcome the strong points of b4nny and habib...on soldier? I’d like to expand a little bit on my thoughts about IRENE’s roster changes: I’m not a fan of the move because it screams “win now.” While I’m not familiar enough with habib’s soldier play to compare it to speedy’s on a minute level, I can say with confidence that habib’s potential, once acclimated to the team and HL, is above Jarrett’s. Jarrett’s more experienced in HL, so he may perform better than habib in the short term, but I think in the long run IRENE’s ceiling will be capped by this. I have similar feelings regarding speedy vs habib on soldier as I’m giving speedy the benefit of the doubt due to his experience on the class, but even if habib’s a marginal upgrade in the long and short term I think the disparity on demo makes it less worth it. Taking a step back, with the regular season having an increased importance in RGL due to the gauntlet playoffs, if a team like >> or AD were making ‘win now’ moves to steal some early wins, I’d likely be praising it. The reason I’m criticizing it from IRENE is because they’ve been playing the long game since the start; if they hit their full potential then playoff seed really doesn’t matter for them, compared to a team like AD who’s not even certain they’ll be in the postseason.

Back to the match, I’m excited to see if KND will play the cool and collected like usual, or be playing with a chip on their shoulder to prove that last week was just a roster mishap and merely a road bump in the long freeway that is this regular season. If Bowl’s able to curtail the feeding that happened last week and stay alive to rain down spam onto IRENE’s side of the map, it should give KND an advantage that allows Jacob to flourish. The greater HL sense should play to The Kids’ favor here, allowing them to pull larger rewards out of smaller advantages, a lot of which can be drawn from Etney’s solid soldier play. I’ll call back to IRENE vs. >> in Week 1: IRENE’s entire koth gameplan seemed to fall apart when b4nny wasn’t able to edge point, forcing a post-uber fight around the point that >> was able to capitalize on. I don’t think IRENE’s dependent on this enough to get shutout 4-0 if KND stops it, but as long as they pay attention to it and don’t feed into bo4r too much the match should be theirs to lose.

Prediction: 4-2 KND
Gamechangers: Etney, Jarrett, habib

Apolodosh vs. The Faction

Bans: Ashville (AD), Cascade (f), Product (f), Warmtic (AD)
Map: koth_lakeside_final

AD has no chance of winning this match. I’m definitely saying this because I believe it and think there’s no way they can rise up and beat a team better than they are, and definitely not because the second I say they can’t win something they show up in a big way and I want this recent string of close matches to continue. In reality, just like last week, AD is not favored to win this week. I expect Cascade to be a common ban against them as it’s one of their best maps, but I don’t think they did too poorly since some of their players, especially RonnieJ, have an affinity for the map. On paper, they really don’t have too much going for them, other than maybe Ronnie himself against a still-rusty eerie. Shaayy’s been extremely dominant this season, but then again so has andrew, and history favors The Faction here. I’m still struggling to quantify AD, but my best guess is that they have these surges where they’re able to outperform the opposition, but it doesn’t last? In that light, koth would seem to be their natural enemy since even if they do surge and take a round off of f, the next round starts and they have to do it again. Ultimately, I don’t think AD can outperform f for long enough to actually take the game, but you truly never can count AD out.

Prediction: 4-2 f
Gamechangers: Joe, RonnieJ, shaayy

Fast Forward vs. Chill Penguins

Bans: Warmtic (>>), Lakeside (Bv), Product (Bv), Cascade (>>)
Map: koth_ashville_rc1

>> essentially get rewarded for their hard work against the top of the table by getting what should amount to a week off against Bv. It’s hard to really imagine a koth map that suits Bv, and with >>’s flank coming in hot off of an outstanding performance last week, ashville may not be the map they’re looking for. It’ll help neutralize Fallen a bit, certainly, but I don’t know if that’s enough for Bv.

Prediction: 4-0 >>
Gamechangers: turkeylips, zoey, Daf

Power Rankings

1. Kids Next Door
2. Fast Forward (+1)
3. IRENE (-1)
4. The Faction
5. Apolodosh
6. Chill Penguins

I didn’t think I’d be making a change this early into the season, but I’m pulling the trigger. >>’s performance against (an admittedly wounded) KND shows that their week 1 against IRENE wasn’t just a strong start, and after facing the two toughest teams they’re in a good position for a great first half performance. This is combined with IRENE’s roster change showed in their match, which (as stated before) I believe is a definite downgrade over their initial roster. I think >> is firing on all cylinders right now and if they replayed their product match this week with Satan and IRENE’s new roster, I think there’s a very strong case to be made for them winning.